Racism or reality?

The wonderful thing about the internet (somewhat like Tiggers) is that you can look up all manner of people, school friends, work colleagues, people you loathed, anyone really, from the past and find out what they are up to.

OK, so Helen Fielding, in the year above me at school, isn’t too hard to find. And given that I am not a fan of chick lit, romance or Pride and Prejudice, Ms Jones’ Diary was not my favourite read, and the film didn’t go down well either.

Hopefully you shouldn’t find me in an internet search as I haven’t done anything remotely famous like Helen.

But publishing books and remaining in the newspaper industry does make you more track-down able.

The last I heard from a former reporting colleague was when he wrote to me from California saying that he was working in a lab as a technician, and no longer considered himself a journalist. He doubted he’d return to our profession.

On one of those inspired days, ie one where I had twenty other million things to do but was messing around on the internet, I decided to look up former journalist colleagues. Those I had loved, and those who I wasn’t so fond of. This one fell into both categories.

To my amazement, he was easily found. Instead of spending the rest of his life in a lab in sunny CA he had returned to our grimy gloomy home town.

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Not only that, but he’d gone on to become editor of the paper where he first started, and then set up his own newspaper. Wow! Got to admire the entrepreneurial spirit I never knew he had. Always seemed more interested in rugby. (He played for Great Britain, and in the USA and Australia – Australia?! He’d never been there when I knew him.)

So, I looked at his paper and he had a leader column (often known as an editorial in lay terms) called Ed Lines. We journalists so like our little puns. Shame he wasn’t called Ed/Edward, would have been even better.

I groaned. I mean I really, really groaned. His column was controversy and provocative personified. He made Julie Birchill look like Little Miss Muffet. He was as bad as my dad!

We had moans against women, against bureaucracy, against the government, the council, political parties, against Islam. All done with that fake, jokey, macho, witty Yorkshire sense of humour. Except, it’s no longer my Yorkshire sense of humour.

So, my former dear colleague wrote a book about the impact of Islam on our home town, or rather the way Islam had taken over our home town.

Now, there are more than a few issues here.

Writing as a journalist is one thing. It does not mean we can write books. Engaging interest in a news report and telling the news as quickly as possible is not the same technique that is needed for writing longer pieces of work.

If you look at Fielding’s Bridget Jones, it is written in typical journalese, hence the diary format. For the most part, it is short snappy (if boring) prose.

Lockwood’s book on the other hand (why do I use surnames for people I once knew and first names for those I’ve never met?) is a bizarre mix of journalese and over-descriptive prose.

My worry with The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury, is that it serves to exacerbate the rift.

The truth, whether we like it or not, is that Islam has become a part of the British community. Even more than 30 years ago, when I was reporting, there were endless applications to the planning committee to use a terrace house for a Muslim school for girls. Because, state schools weren’t good enough.image

But Islam isn’t the only reason our proud West Riding towns went into decline. Thatcher didn’t exactly help. When I came back from Australia in the mid 80s I was horrified at the signs of economic downturn. I was going to say poverty, but that wasn’t right.

It was, however, when looking in the windows of butchers’ shops, seeing two pork chops and half a pound of mince when previously, the windows would have been full, expecting to sell all their produce, that I realised something had gone wrong.

Lockwood mentions the Heavy Woollen District. Even one of our local bus companies was named after it. We lived in the world of shoddy, but also the rather more upmarket mills, eg cashmere.

But rag picking was looked down on, and Asians were brought into the area in the 50s to work in mills, just as they were used as bus conductors because white people didn’t want to do that. Who wants that sort of job? My father worked in rags for a while, but, not as a picker. I was frightened of the women in the mill down the street. When I walked to the bus stop in my posh school uniform, they would call out raucous abuse. Never mind the kids from the local comprehensive who threatened me.

Increasingly I used the bus stop up the road, and flirted with two boys going to school in the opposite direction.

Those days of mills, civic pride, Victoriana went years ago before Danny and I were born.
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The days of the Dewsbury town clerk with his personalised number plate (TC) were long gone in my infancy (my father bought the town clerk’s car and received endless driving acknowledgements because they didn’t realise he wasn’t the TC). So why is Lockwood, six months my senior and born in the same maternity hospital, dragging up the past so nostalgically?

None of us can go back.

My worry is that his references to ‘the race industry’, to ‘goose-stepping community cohesion zealots’, not to mention his point about the promotion of single motherhood on benefits, and his vilification of ‘Political Correct’, managers and Marxists, oh and ‘the liberal establishment’ and the ‘loony left’, just merely serve to antagonise.

As we both say, the process of Asian immigration started before we were born. When my mother was teaching, she worked in an Irish Catholic area. When I was reporting, it had become a Pakistani area. Batley Carr, to be specific. I trudged around it on foot, I knew every street. And then I walked up to Mount (not so) Pleasant. The doors were closed. The white reporter was unwelcome.

My father was as racist as they come. But he would happily chat with Afro-Caribbeans in London about cricket. And, back to Dewsbury, when he thought another market stallholder was being victimised (Pakistani), he stood up for him.

Danny mentions our market in his book, it was a classical melting pot. We had the Jews who were working Shabbat and buying a slice of boiled ham from us for a sandwich, and we had Pakistanis selling clothes on the other side of us. As president of the market traders association, my dad tried to fight for the rights of stallholders. Regardless of race or religion.

In the intro chapters of his book, Danny (yeah, I know I’ve slipped into his first name), mentions places I knew and walked, and drunk at. The Scarborough. Great pub serving excellent Tetley’s beer. The scene of Muslim violence, when the whole of the area had become increasingly occupied by Asians. We would go there for a Sunday lunchtime beer. It was a good pub. No need for such an attack on people or property.

It’s no longer my town. It hasn’t been for years. I’m not sure why Danny has written about it. Maybe to get it out of his system or make money? It was certainly no longer what I wanted, so no way would I move back there after travelling around the world.

Hell’s teeth, even my parents left!

Hey Danny, send me a review copy… But you can read the preview on Amazon. You can read his Ed Lines at The Press. It may even suit some of you.

How much of his view however, is skewed by his wish for the past (which I would probably share), and his dislike and mistrust of people from another race and religion. Where does race and religion end?

PS, he used to have hair when I knew him. He was quite nice looking.

All credits for photos to whoever took them that I took from wiki :) mine not currently available.

And Danny darling, this is just my opinion after all. Just what the right thinking person in the street thinks. So please don’t take me to the high court :)

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64 comments on “Racism or reality?

  1. I can often differentiate between racism and . . . well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? There is no other word I can put in there that won’t, in the eyes of some, make me a racist.

    Having grown up in the 60’s in Chicago, I think I have a good handle on what constitutes racism, and I think I can say I am not one. The problem is that these days the term is being slung about all willy-nilly like, and, apparently, just saying you are not racist is enough to label you as one.

    Here in the US, if you criticize the President, you stand a pretty good chance of being called a racist. Recently, I’m sure you read about it, a white cop shot an unarmed black teen. Racism. People are absolutely sure of it, although not too far from there, a black cop did the same thing (he shoot an unarmed latino kid). Try to tell people “you know, it could just be a cop thing, and not a race thing” and BAAM! . . . you’re racist.

    Same with religion. I come down pretty hard on many tenets of religion because I see them as harmful. But name the religion, and I can point to examples of said religion wanting, and getting, exemptions to laws because of their religious beliefs. Religious people are of the firm belief they should be allowed to live under their own laws, and Islam is one of them. Christians, for all their castigation of Islam, are no better. I call bull on that.

    I can appreciate someone’s belief involving the crazy idea that some dead prophet or zombie kid has words they respect, but if you move to the US, it’s pretty clear. They know what the laws are, and still claim exemptions.

    Pastafarians are now pushing back (laws are either enforced uniformly or they are worthless):
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/08/02/2399191/pastafarian-man-wins-religious-liberty-battle-to-wear-a-pasta-sieve-on-his-government-id-card
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/texas-pastafarian-license-photo_n_3816839.html

    But say something, and you can be accused of waging a war against Christianity, or being an Islamophobe (although, given recent events, one has to take pause and consider if at least for some sects, that is a justified response).

    We live in a time where people can hide behind accusations of persecution, of intolerance, and of racism.

    I’m not saying those things don’t happen. I’m saying they have become the default accusation even when legitimate concerns are raised.

    I didn’t bother reading the referenced piece because I’m not from there, but as an immigrant to the US, let me say that I have no respect for people who hold on to their ethnicity so hard as to be in direct opposition to the laws of the host country.

    When I came to the US I did not understand places like Little Italy and Chinatown. I can see the value of infusing part of one’s culture into the existing culture, but I see no value to recreating the place one has just left, and do so by purposefully rejecting the culture, laws, traditions of the places one has moved to.

    Integration, I think, is the key, and it may well be that the children of immigrants will distance themselves from the ideologies of their parents, but not if they are never exposed to competing ideologies, if they go to their own schools, if they live segregated from the people around them.

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    • In the book I referenced, the real problem is the later generations. We must be on third or fourth generations now since the arrival of original immigrants in the 50s. The segregation has increased, as far as I understand it. And, there is a lot of radicalism and fanaticism :(

      As I’ve said to other commenters (I’ve been working backwards) race and religion blur. But they are very different. The colour of someone’s skin, their ethnicity, does not harm others or seek to interfere or influence other people. Nor, unless you were Michael Jackson, can you do much about it. Religion is a very different matter. You CAN choose whether to follow a mythical deity or not. You can choose not to impose your whacky views on others. The issue here, is how much impact Islam is having on non-Muslims.

      I did read about white cop shot black kid. I didn’t read black cop shot Latino. Thereby proving your point.

      The pasta variants point out nicely how the law is an ass, but does the law get changed? No, they get to wear a colander or a sieve for their photos. Now, that is when you know society is screwed.

      I realised I was racist when a black guy with dreadlocks approached me in a quiet car park. Was he going to mug me, rape me, or murder me? No, his parking ticket had some time left on it, and he was offering it to me to save me buying one. I felt sick at my automatic reaction. And that’s my worry about a book like this, that it promotes similar reactions.

      Danny’s book isn’t without basis and I wouldn’t dream of arguing with his facts. You only have to look at the recurrent cases of Muslim men taking white girls for prostitution rings to know there is one serious problem. Except white men have been occasionally known to do that too… Whereupon sexism enters the arena so I will cut that one off right there.

      I have no answers. Well, apart from to push religion onto the sidelines. Treat it like sex between consenting adults.

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  2. What some would see as racist I see as fear of religious extremism, and based on what is happening with ISIS there is grounds to be concerned.

    Scout around some of the blogs and see what it’s like for atheists in some of the southern states of the US of eh?
    These people fear losing jobs, never mind friends and family. It is nuts that religion should play ANY part in such things.
    So , yes, I too would feel aggrieved at an apparent ”Islamic take over”.
    Similar reservations have been expressed about various European cities.
    And I would feel the same if it were any religion that had become so ”In Your Face.”

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    • I think racism and religious extremism get mistakenly conflated. When I was a kid, it was out and out racism against Asians. There was no thought of religion. Well, apart from sticking a pig’s head in a mosque…

      You know me well enough to know that I not only disagree with religious extremism, I disagree with religion per se. The difference between us (and other who think like you) is that I just don’t find it interesting. It is a load of twaddle, and there’s an end to it. I appreciate that it causes serious problems worldwide, but I can’t get my simple head around the fact that people choose (?) to believe in what is patently rubbish.

      My gripe about Danny’s book, well, the preview anyway, is his approach. Col mentioned that it was disjointed and I agree. But, to criticise loony left, liberal establishment, Political Correct, the race industry, blah blah isn’t the right way to go about it. I fit most of those categories, but I would certainly fear any religious ‘take-over’. And, remember the author is from an Irish Catholic family. Danny boy, no less. No idea how religious he is, we never discussed it. However, I think a more reasoned and less aggressive approach would have made a better case. But maybe that wasn’t the point. Who knows?

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      • In days of Yore when England Ruled The Waves doncha know, what? ”Our” culture ruled, and we exported it to all and sundry: cricket, tea-drinking and shooting ‘wogs’.
        Native religions were given scant regard and Christianity ruled the day, to the point that the Christians allowed appeared to turn a blind eye to the smoldering volcano that is Islamic extremism.
        Now the sun has well and truly set on the Empire and independence and self-determination are the order of the day colonialists are paying for the deprivations they wrought while carving up the world for King/Queen and country.

        Therefore, it is quite natural that when these ”Natives” arrive on England’s Green and Pleasant land they would want to bring a piece of home with them – as did the English when they were.
        And it is far easier to openly practice one’s religion in a democracy that supports religious freedom than it is in a theocracy that will try as hard at it can to liquidate opposition.
        Very much like the way the early Christian church did.

        The difficulty now, of course, is where to draw the line?
        Your ‘mate’ might be getting all huffy about Islam – and rightly so – but then fair’s fair my ole’ son, his next book should be about Christian fundamentalism and how it has insidiously crept into the education system and how it’s ab out time we began to dismantle all religion.
        Maybe it;s time for The Church to ‘fess up: “We made it all up – honest. Ask Wolpe. Ask the Pope.”

        Truly, there is no middle ground any more. The days of the pleasant afternoon tea on the lawn of the vicarage are over. Long over.

        One ignores the dangers of religion – all religion – at one’s cost.
        How quickly the ”Troubles” in Northern Ireland fade into memory.
        Imaging this scenario, and worse, played out between Muslims and ”Christians” in the streets of England?

        Couldn’t happen? Hmm … we’ll see.

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        • Now what happened to my carefully crafted reply? Maybe when the power and wiki went odd in third world Gib…

          Cricket is boring, tea is not much better although I did acquire a taste in… India (not much else to drink), and shooting the wogs was despicable.

          Missionaries really get my goat. Leave well alone. The damage Christian missionaries have done far outweighs any good.

          ‘Mate’ is right. We haven’t spoken for years, although the odd email happened. But, we are poles apart these days. He’s more sexist than you!

          Danny’s point though, is that the scenario, is and has been playing out now for years. I’ve lived in immigrant, riot inner-city areas, Liverpool and Newcastle, and although not a city, the immigrant part of Dewsbury. It’s an on-going problem.

          Based on my reading of his preview and his seriously appalling leader column, I don’t think he is helping. Unless he is helping Danny.

          But good idea, maybe I’ll email him, and suggest his new book theme, credit to be given to The Ark of course, and I might consider editing it for him too. Winner eh?

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          • I am NOT sexist. Sheesh!
            I fully support women being on top.

            The problem is often compounded by the fact people like this cannot see the wood for the trees (sadly) and do not equate ”their” religion with the type of insidious encroachment he attributes to the Muslims.
            My mother would balk at any suggestion of ”badness” in the good ole’ C of E. God (sic)forbid

            There is NO good religion.
            And once this point is emphasized and (maybe) one day accepted we can get over each other and begin to plan for the eventual alien invasion and learn how to betruly xenophobic!

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          • Sweetheart, you know you are. You just like to pretend you are not.

            But I do agree, all religion is the same. Not two legs good, four legs bad. All the two legs are bad. (Animal Farm, but I figure you might have got it).

            Does Islam equal child prostitution? Heroin distribution? Violence on the streets? It shouldn’t do.

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          • ”Sweetheart” ! Don’t you bloody well patronize me. Sheesh! How sexist is ‘Sweetheart” ?
            I don’t know … really. Women these days.

            Does Islam equal child prostitution? Heroin distribution? Violence on the streets? It shouldn’t do.

            No, it doesn’t. But then neither is it supposed to support beheading people – not officially.

            Does Christianity support indoctrinating kids that dinosaurs lived with us? Well, now …

            Does Christianity support the notion that God talks to certain politicians who then go to war based partly on the strength of these little chats?
            Dunno …. ask George W.

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  3. I share a deep dislike for the PC brigade. Also for change for the worse – which most of it seems to be. Devout Muslims are definitely a retrogressive mob, on purely objective criteria, whereas there is much to admire in the Englishness of England.
    The accounts in the preview of the book seem rather disjointed – and do not give enough detail in many areas, probably under the assumption that ‘everyone’ knows the background – and there doesn’t seem to be much effort to tie them into some sort of coherence. Still, the pictures painted are grim. It seems to be a seriously sick community. The causes are probably legion, as can be expected, but the ‘furriners’ do seem to have a lot to do with it.
    Allowing Sharia Courts in UK (anywhere, for that matter) sets my blood boiling.

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    • I’m sure I fall into what both you and Danny would call the PC brigade, but I won’t go into that on this reply. I wonder if seeing change as for the worse is a sign go ageing? Seriously. I agree with you on that. For all that I use the internet and my computers and iPhone, I would be quite happy to go back to the less technological age of 30 years ago. Admittedly we had a computer (Amstrad) and a mobile that needed a suitcase to carry it in, but travelling around the world these days seems so utterly boring and predictable. You can plan everything in advance, from whose sofa you are going to surf on to where you will eat. Where is the sense of adventure?

      I digress. I like Englishness, whatever that is. I think it is a beautiful country with an amazing heritage, but I dislike many aspects of the society. And, times move on, Indian/Pakistani take-aways are as much a part of life now as fish and chip shops once were.

      Yeah, I didn’t think it flowed well either. Which was my point about journalists not necessarily being able to set out and write longer pieces of work. I’ve done very different (corporate) writing, involving lengthy documents and reports, and it’s not the same at all. Even reading the preview, I’d have gone about it a very different way. And that’s from someone who knew the area and the issues. Deprivation is a big issue of course. Don’t forget most immigrants always end up in the poorer rough parts of town. So by default they become no-go areas and ghettos. Apparently the area is so poor now it is receiving EU special funding :(

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    • I don’t understand the Australian policy. I mentioned the old White Australia policy below to Clare, and it seems like the current government is doing the same thing without the policy. Having said that, I mentioned the refugee issue to my partner (we both lived there, met there, married in Sydney) and he immediately mentioned some of the previous immigration problems, specifically Vietnamese in Redfern (he lived there for a while).

      But Cambodia? And bribing Cambodia (with its great record on human rights) to take people? It defies belief doesn’t it, transporting people around the place and bargaining over them.

      Here in the Med, we have annual waves (ha!) of attempted illegal immigrants trying to get to Europe from Africa. I’m not religious, but the rich part of the world should be teaching people to fish, not giving them fish or one-off handouts.

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  4. I like the change of theme, it fits your content.

    Oldham, too, is segregated: first the Irish Catholics, then the Asians. The Catholics worked in mills, and were segregated in Hathershaw- which remains Catholic- and the Asians took over Glodwick. We had riots, but we never voted for the BNP.

    Why create a bit of Pakistan in England? Well, it is familiar, it is the way people know, though Pakistan too moves on and they may be seen as foreign there as well as here.

    One reason I am against bombing Muslims in Iraq is that it might alienate Muslims here.

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    • Thanks Clare. I was considering asking what people thought. I’ve been looking for a change for ages but nothing was quite right. I saw this highlighted on the wordpress blog, and being an eighties babe, the title eighties caught my eye. I figured I would like it. I’d wanted a deeper header picture, so it ticked that box, there is lots of white space and a clean lay-out, another box ticked, and it doesn’t seem to nest the replies into tiny boxes. So unless I find a snag, I’ll probably stick with it, even if it does automatically date me.

      I can remember if I’ve ever been to Oldham, but I would imagine so many mill towns have followed the same waves of immigration and ghettoisation (is that a word?). Irish Catholic, then Asian (largely Muslim), and more recently Eastern European. What I find interesting is that in the two neighbouring towns of Dewsbury and Batley, the territorial patterns were different. I mentioned my mother teaching in the rough Irish Catholic area that had become Muslim by the time I worked there, yet in Dewsbury, the Catholic area (where Danny grew up) hadn’t changed, the Asian immigrants and second generations lived in a different part of town, as with your Oldham example. It may have changed, although it doesn’t sound like it from his book.

      Living in Australia we met a Dutchman who said exactly what you have suggested. When he visited his country of birth, he was regarded as foreign there as he was in Australia.

      I’m against bombing Muslims anywhere. I think it is crass. While I am not naive enough to think every Muslim is a peaceable Allah-loving innocent, I also don’t believe every Pakistani is a would-be terrorist. Alienation serves no purpose – apart from to alienate. If the UK wants a white UK policy (as with the old Australian one) then it should implement one. Otherwise, people need to accept things have changed and work within that. Not to elevate one group above another, but to try and achieve at least some sort of working community. I doubt it will happen though.

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    • Thank you Mak.

      I think the issue is for white people feeling threatened.

      I live in a multi-cultural society, and I think it’s a tolerant one. Neither race nor religion are an issue. But that depends on your point of view…

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  5. First of all about the blog change: You need to change the size of the font on your heading so it all fits properly… very annoying having the D centered on the next line. The rest is fine since you don’t put anything on the sides… suits the purpose of your blog better than the last one.

    I took Pat to Dewsbury market a few years ago. It’s more of an Indian/Pakistan market than anything else… that’s all we saw. Personally, I can’t tell the difference between Indians and Pakistanies Probably due to the fact there isn’t any since it used to be one country anyway and they are of the same race. It is their own prejudices against each other that creates the difference and nothing more. So it doesn’t surprise me that someone would call dewsbury a muslim state.

    Personally, I don’t think they have any right to expect us to change for their benefit. But we allow them to do whatever they please. They would not do the same for us. Right now, with everything going on… isis and all that, I wouldn’t want to be living in Dewsbury. I think they should stop all immigration when there is a war like this. Maybe they do. I don’t know.

    Someone at work said to me, “Not all muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims.” One has to wonder about that. Personally I think religion is instigator of wars because it messes with people’s minds and herein is the end result.

    As for meeting people I knew on line… hasn’t happened for me yet. Those who I do know that are on line, I have nothing to do with anyway.

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    • Can’t change font size. Believe me I would. But font changes ain’t free. I used to like being able to mess with blogger. Can’t do it on here unless, I upload text added to header per post. Groan.

      I grew up in the area. How is Hull? Immigrants? You had docks so…

      I’m sad that it seemed like an Indian/Paki market :( It was very different back then. Lots and lots of food, records, bedding, electrical goods, but mostly non-Asian. The fish stall behind us made their own kipper pâté.

      It was a mix of an indoor and outdoor market. And it was big. I wouldn’t dream of going back. The days of us having huge queues around the corner waiting for bacon and cheese are well gone.

      I don’t think it’s about either culture changing. It’s about trying to live together. That’s why I cited the example of my father standing up for a Pakistani.

      I guess things have probably changed since then.

      After three years at university studying history, and religious wars, it was well in the bin.

      Most of my online meets have been good. But sometimes it is better to leave it online.

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      • If you change to Roughseainthemed, it would fit. lol I know, there is a bit more freedom in blogger but it also has its shortfalls.

        Hull is still minimal with mix and few immigrants than most places (the way we like it) We get mostly Polish people here and they stay to themselves. At least they’re not out to kill everybody and try to change our country or convert us all or condemn us to hell.

        I like ’em. I use their car washes all the time. They work hard and don’t cause trouble. I think we should be more selective with our immigration. After all, if people don’t accept our values, customs and traditions… If they don’t like the way we are, what the fuck do they wanna come over here for except to cause trouble?

        I’m not racist, but we have to be careful about who we let in. If they don’t like us, they should fuck off back to where they came from or their parents came from.

        What really pisses me off is when they state on TV that they are British… Are they British Born/were their parents British born? That’s what I want to know and I think that distinction should be made so the rest of the world don’t get the wrong idea and start blaming the real British for things they haven’t done.

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        • Send me a screen shot. It looks fine on all my WP previews, iPad and iPhone. I can always call it roughseas I suppose!

          Polish are interesting. They came years ago. I follow one blog about the free Czech Air Force after I researched my post on the polish PM death off Gib. But, what is interesting is old Eastern European immigrants v new ones…

          ‘Im not racist but…’ Aw come on Kev, that’s pretty near the line. It’s not far off saying, if you don’t like nuclear power don’t move to the Lake District (Sellafield), if you don’t like cruelty to animals don’t move to Spain (bullfighting). We’re not talking parents here, we’re talking grandparents and more. And, they are British. They are British-born with the right to British citizenship, like it or not.

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          • I say I’m not racist. I’m not. I don’t care what colour they are or where they are from… it’s their attitudes towards our country, towards our cultural heritage and way of life I don’t like. Why would you move to a country if you don’t like their way of life? I would never move to Iraq. Yes I understand some may be British born and they have all the rights… in that case, they are traitors, but if they want to go and fight in Syria, for terrorists against their own, they should stay there and not come back. I don’t know how they can do it. But they do. They go over there, fight for terrorists and then return here. I don’t get it.

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        • I work for PA-HO ( the Pan American Branch of the WHO ) and because of that had to take several work shops on racism and how to detect adn avoid it; mostly within ourselves.
          Each time we were told that the dead give away for racists tendencies in ourselves were certain speech pattern. The #1 was: ” I am not racist, BUT…..”

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          • I went on similar workshops (in health). When I was managing complaints, I learned that it was no good saying ‘I’m sorry IF …. you weren’t happy with our services,’ or whatever. Quite clearly they were unhappy or they wouldn’t be complaining.

            We never hear ourselves from the other point of view.

            I complain about what, to me, are sexist comments. No, no, they assure me (I’m not including Kev in this I add quickly), I’m not sexist, but your point of view is wrong and I know more than you about it (or words to that effect).

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          • I am also not pointing the finger at anyone accusing them to be racist. I have learned however that I had to change my speech and writing patterns to make sure that those around me would get that message without myself pointing it out over and over again. I have learned not to say ” I am not racist “, but these days say something like ” I would like to think of myself not being racist and appreciate wrong usage of language for example to be pointed out to me “, because I feel that pointing out that one is not racist brings doubt to other people’s minds, because it ought to be obvious that one is not racist. .I also don’t say it, because I cannot be sure that because of specific culture, language usage, confusion of usage when one speaks half a dozen or more and a variety of others reasons I don’t sometimes come across as racist. That is when I try to take advantage of the moment and learn and improve. A couple of years ago I was in the US and it was pointed out to me that the word ” gypsy ” was extremely racist and the PC word was ” Romani “. I explained that I had learned that the word came from ” Gitano ” (spanish ) or ” Gitain ” ( French ) and meant ” from Egypt “. I was told that this was not true and that it meant ” to gyp ” to cheat someone. Even though I am really tired of all those PC rules I still try to be respectful and now make an effort when in the US to use the word Romani.

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          • Hi Droelma, It’s probably true. Thanks for the enlightenment. I don’t mean to be racist, but I sometimes find myself slipping. (probably another one huh?) I haven’t felt good about this whole conversation to be honest. I tend, generally to simply avoid the subject because it’s so easy to get drawn in. So did you find that you had racist thoughts that you were not totally aware of in these work shops?

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          • Of course I did ! I definitely came and maybe still do come across sometimes as racist. I come from the post war ( and I mean right after the war ) generation, where as a defense for being put down by all the world we looked for ways to put others down…….and racism fits that bill. I remember everyone doing this with the guest workers we invited from poorer countries in Europe. We were racist, because we often spoke about issues we knew nothing about like the issues with different ethnicities in countries like the UK or France, because we never had such a problem until way after the war….when racism really flourished. I found out there were many subtle ways to be racist not just the big and obvious issues. Sometimes I was guilty and had to make changes in my approach and the way I thought and expressed myself. I agree with you, it’s definitely uncomfortable, but avoiding the subject ( which I would also prefer ) all together is not the way to being less racist.

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          • I appreciate your honesty, but what is the the way to being less racist. I’m fine with people from different countries, etc. I even lived with a Mexican family for five years. It’s just when things like this beheading in syria happens, it sparks or kindles unwanted thoughts and feelings toward particular groups, such as muslims, but usually only those that are supporting it. How do we deal with this?

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          • Actually that’s quite relevant Kev, because Dewsbury was allegedly the home of Muslim terrorists.

            But, do I not speak to Benaziz (Moroccan Muslim) because of that? Or ignore my Sephardi Jewish neighbours because of the continual Israeli attacks on Arabs?

            I suspect there are two different issues here. One is about law-breaking, terrorism, murder, and inflicting a chosen religion on others. The other is about our daily relations with people.

            To go back to my post, look at my dad standing up for the Pakistani stallholder who he thought was being victimised. Skin colour and original familial country of origin were irrelevant.

            But that’s at an individual level. Terrorism and religious fundamentalism are different. My issue is that you can’t assume every Muslim wants to blast the shit out of you. Nor is every Muslim a drug trafficking, sex-trafficking, illegal immigrant.

            To turn it around totally, how do we deal with white, lying, Christian politicians? Or look at Ark’s comment above re religious Christian fundies, especially ACE.

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          • I completely agree with that. I like your perspective. I think we need to keep the two separate. In normal day to day living… skin colour, race, even religion make no difference to me whatsoever. In fact I see all as equal and believe people should have whatever faith they wish as long as they are not forcing it upon other. That’s where terrorism draws the line. It’s all about power, coercion, control, and hate amongst other things. I think it’s when we see that a certain group tends to be involved, ie; Muslims. Even though we know deep down that not all Muslims are involved it does mess with our thoughts and feelings.

            Christians can be just as bad. Look at the crusades. This is why in general, I don’t like religion, yet I know there is good in it as well. There are no easy answers. I think once again, it’s down to people wanting power and control rather than the actual foundations of whichever faith it is.

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  6. You made an excellent point. Now in the 21st Century Racism is not only about the different color of a person’s skin and about different races, but often about our own race. I find it interesting that the ADL ( Anti Defamation League ) has subjects like Internet Hate, Neo Nazi Skinheads, Church Movements, Nation of Islam as well as Homophobia as sub sets to Racism in their subject category. It is true many of us can say that we have nothing against people of a different skin color, but often we have plenty against other groups, displaying feelings and beliefs that are not very different from plain, old fashioned racism.

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  7. BTW: I am back home since yesterday and even though it’s only 3 pm here, I feel Spanish bed time coming on. I will have to decide on either very strong coffee or a nap…..:o).

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  8. I know that ” despues ” is written ” déspues “, but sometimes I am too lazy to mess around with my keyboard. If I work mostly in Spanish I just plug in my Spanish one, but not today……

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  9. And of course I also know that it is not ” déspues ” but ” después “. Jetlag is really doing a number on my brain.
    Enjoy that San Miguel…..and sweet dreams after.

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  10. I’m certainly culturist.

    I should like to see ritual slaughter made illegal….when Muslim or Jewish.

    I should like to see the prohibition of any form of dispute settlement outside that of the courts – so no orthodox Jewish tribunals controlling divorce and no sharia inhertitance system either. Both discriminate against women and where the blazes are the feminists to protest it? (These days worrying about fashion and food, by the look of the pages of The Guardian).

    I find it deeply offensive to see living women wearing winding sheets when they leave the house.The sexism inherent in it is so obvious that the PC lobby chooses instead to bleat about personal choice. What choice does one have when brought up in a belief system unrelieved by the offer, the opportunity, of an alternative?

    And I fail to see why I am supposed to respect gypsies by whatever name they wish to be called when the practice of removing girls from school and marrying them off in order to preserve their ‘purity’ is current among them.

    And while I’m at it, the practices of indigenous people in the matter of use and abuse of women and girls should have more light shed on it instead of worshipping Rousseau’s noble savage.

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    • You only used those examples cos you knew I couldn’t argue with any of them. Except I do like Rousseau’s savage who lives within himself…

      Journalism these days is terrible, whether the Grauniad or elsewhere. Trite sound bites. I was trying to find some decent analysis about the air strikes against Iraq and found one half-decent report about why it wasn’t a bright idea.

      The issue of interference is sooo controversial. To look at another example, America knows best, so therefore invades (insert names of numerous countries) to save the poor sad natives from oppression…

      Now, while I’m not saying that girls and women around the world don’t have a shit life, especially or rather mainly, when it comes to religious indoctrination, there is a similar principle ie rich arrogant whitey knows best… The issues regarding women are not difficult – they need good health and health care (preferably not forced to pop out a kid every nine months), education, and financial independence, which is, of course exactly why they are not given those equal rights. And that’s before you even start to tackle the inherent discrimination in western society.

      I liked Ark’s suggestion, can we have a similar book based on Christian fundamentalism. Any proposals to make a secular society and state into a religious one are terrifying. I’ve moaned on another comment about the use of the word nazi in an inappropriate context, eg grammar nazi, but in the context of religious societies I think it seems appropriate. It’s nothing more than a dictatorship with punishment of death if you fall out of line. Look at that whacky American who proposes death by stoning on the grounds that it is community involvement and no-one bears the responsibility for being the executioner because who can tell which stone killed the knock-out blow? Personally, I would say everyone is the executioner for even participating.

      Did you read about the El Al flight that was delayed taking off because Orthodox Jews refused to sit next to women? I nearly wrote a post I was so incensed, but I have other things to do. Maybe I’ll do a one liner…

      How’s Spain? :)

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      • At the moment Spain is wet. We have had the descent of the tribes of Belgium, I have visited mother in England and am hoping to have a few days tofinally be able to enjoy the place before returning to Costa Rica, starting by cooking the truffle I bought at the village fete yesterday.

        Interference….America never intervenes to assist the downtrodden – least of all women. When, as a byproduct of its intervention women receive education and health services, these services promptly disappear when America gets out of the situation, leaving women who put their heads above the parapet as targets.

        I don’t think that having benefited from the fight our mothers and grandmothers put up to achieve some freedom over their own persons and their choice of how to live their lives it is arrogant to want the same for other women…..more like shameful not to try to help.

        The churches indeed have their own unsavoury history – just look at Geneva under Calvin – while the American weirdies account to some extent for the support to Israel as they want to push on the advent of Armageddon. (I suspect that the Second Coming might provide them with an unexpected destination, however.)
        All in favour of eliminating their discrimination against women too – is it the Seventh Day Adventists when the women wear those absurd tiny head scarves on top of their heads? – but don’t ignore the reality that in a society like Britain government has allowed women coming to live in this country to be deprived of freedoms that natives take for granted.

        Free obligatory English lessons would be a good start. Language liberates.

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        • You haven’t been there for long, you must be going back soon.

          As for women receiving health care, look at how America permits religious employers to limit their crappy insurance-based health care to women. If women come second to religious beliefs in their own country what hopes have others got elsewhere?

          Don’t know about Seventh Day lot, but the Orthodox Jews round us were little beany hats. You know, showing your hair is so sinful and tries to lure men into lewd activities… And why does Britain let immigrant women not get the same rights of freedom? Cultural respect ie invariably religion.

          You’re being silly now Helen. An educated woman might think for herself and who would want that?

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          • September was good when we were there, the weather (in Gib) has only really changed this week. Hope it has rained and my peas are growing.

            Ah yes, comprehensive schools. Not those nasty elitist single sex direct grant or grammar schools that put the emphasis on academic learning! For girls? Whatever next? There were three good girls’ schools in my area. When it came to choice time, most people signed up for all three and sat all three entrance exams. My father (of course) decided on the one school and no other option, he figured I’d get in anyway, plus I got a free place from the trustees. So, it worked out in the end. Glad I didn’t go to the local comp.

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    • Laugh a minute isn’t he? Daily Wail or more likely the Sun. Fascinating read in terms of perpetuating stereotypes, of all kinds of people. Single mothers, Asians, and to the other extreme, the right sort of old people. Life isn’t black and white.

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  11. There’s a fair bit to gram on to in this post but I shall cherry pick just two. First I was intrigued by the comment about writing short vs. very long pieces. Not being formally trained in the writing and communication process I tend to find such insights fascinating. I was particularly taken with the Bridget Jones reference. Maybe there’s a line–fine or not, I don’t know at this point–between brilliantly applying a style into a new application and just plain striking it lucky. Professional writers spend decades honing their craft, trying many different approaches and (hopefully) getting intelligent and useful feedback from peers and mentors. Amateurs (such as myself) try one thing after another and just wait an see how it turns out. Sometimes we can clearly see if we are doing well or not, but often enough, it’s up to us t guess.
    Now the second point. I’ll twist it from racism all the way over to prejudice. Back when I was still an undergrad and staying at a university residence I recall having a good conversation with a senior student, one often given to making jokes that were quite socially unacceptable.He pointed out that it was not his intention to be an overall jerk but that, instead, he was trying to acknowledge the prejudiced redneck that exists within all of us. It was his contention that in admitting he had those tendencies he was in a somewhat better position to deal with them. I tended ti agree but only to a point–I could never see why he needed to crack those stupid offensive jokes, even though he was trying to lampoon the whole thing. Best to just shut my mouth and realize the idiot I could be when I took the brakes off…

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    • The good thing about writing for a living, is that you learn to write in different styles. But applying professional writing skills to writing books is totally different. As you say, maybe luck of the draw. And sooooooo many would-be authors self-publishing, it’s unbelievable.

      I don’t agree that making unacceptable jokes helps eliminate prejudice. I think there are better ways to go about it. It’s not exactly constructive is it?

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  12. After reading this post and the comments several times, thinking out my views, judgments and POV, I decided whether or not I agree with what you say, Danny says or the comments is a moot point… everyone is entitled to their opinion, belief, faith, expression. In the real world sometimes I’m disappointed, even appalled with how they are actualised. [In the virtual world I employ the close page/delete button]. But here, as always you express your views professionally, convincingly and informatively while entertaining and eliciting comments of equal calibre which you treat fairly. As it should be.

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    • I’m not sure what or who I agree with. I think Danny has a point. I’m sure his facts are right, but I consider his language a little choice. I don’t think people who strive for racial integration and harmony should be vilified and mocked. A little more objectivity would have gone a long way. But I’m basing my comments on the preview as I made clear. Perhaps the book changes tone during the course? Who knows?

      Thank you. I’m always happy for debate and different points of view. But as Maurice commented, we all have inherent prejudice of whatever form. I can understand people’s disillusionment with changes, but we are all people. I suppose I’m questioning where prejudice starts to kick in rather than valid and rational grievances.

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  13. People often confuse race and culture. I know Muslim women who wear no veil of any description but still regard themselves as good Muslims. I read, earlier today an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph in which Muslim girls criticised women who have gone to Iraq and Syria to become ISIL brides. They argue (correctly) that such ladies are throwing away the benefits of a liberal western society in which women are treated with respect in return for an extremist ideology. Unfortunately I can not now locate the article but it does show that Islam is far from constituting a monolithic religion.
    On the other side I know Muslims who drink and (yes) even have affairs much as non-Muslims do.
    Integration is slowly but surely taking place. I am not saying that all differences will disappear. What I am saying is that, on the whole young people are not hung up about race (there are, for instance a growing number of multiracial relationships).
    Ultimately people are just that, people
    “If you prick me do I not bleed?”

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    • Race, culture, religion are often so intertwined that it is difficult to segregate them – Judaism being the classic, I think, probably followed by Islam, but differently so.
      What makes people become extremists? It’s a very difficult issue. Many of my views may be considered extreme, ie not the norm, but at least they are my views. I think the issue regarding religion is about a sense of belonging, value, guidance in life, even giving purpose and motivation where going it on your own may feel quite rudderless. I can understand the attraction. It doesn’t do it for me though, and my big gripe is the desire to inflict their views on others eg fundamentalist Christians and extreme Muslims.
      I wrote recently about a Muslim Moroccan who died suddenly, he smoked tobacco, dope and had affairs. Yet others we know, don’t drink, smoke, or are unfaithful. No different to people in any other religion.
      Older people too have inter-racial and inter-religious relationships. They don’t always work out, but then, neither do same race, same religion ones. Both of us have had relationships (before we met) with other races and nationalities. More would be helpful, avoid the ghettoisation and segregation which seems to cause the problems.

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  14. Enjoyed your response to Drewdog.
    Sick of the word “racist”. It has lost meaning. Teacher tells kid he’s getting a 0 for not doing his work and he screams “you are racist!” Really. MLK would be so proud you’re an idiot parrot.
    Extremism – worries me. So much extremism and intolerance: – ethnic/racial, religious, political extremism -even anti-bullying extremism. Separating rather than finding common ground. It’s dangerous to say or stand for anything without getting attacked by some group.
    Your dad at the market defending other sounds like our neighborhood. Everyone was taught to stand up for the underdog or the ones weaker. Doesn’t mean everyone was perfect, but people tried to get along. Not so much now?
    Oh, well, a cool-ish front came through and it’s sunny and my head is totally stopped up so I’m taking chicken soup and going to bake in the sun with the dog.
    (will catch up on other posts/blogs whenever my head stopped feeling like a water balloon)

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    • He’s six months older than me.

      I think he is trying to say that it isn’t a multi-cultural society, unlike say, much of where you live.

      Where he and I both lived is an us and them society. Pitted against each other. I have no disagreement that what he portrays is probably accurate (I haven’t been back for many reasons), but the way he says it, I find inflammatory. Just my view.

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